Monday, 14 April 2014

Fruit and Custard Tart

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:45 pm

Last month was Dad’s birthday. Which means I’m back to my birthday cake making duties. Deciding what to make often is the biggest challenge when it comes to making birthday cakes. Asking the VIP what they want, I often get “whatever you want to make for me”. It’s tough to choose the right cake for the right person. And I can tell you how tough.

I often look to magazines, TV Shows and cook books for inspiration. For this cake, I was watching a New Zealand cooking show and they were making beignets (French donuts) that was stuffed with stewed apples and rolled in cinnamon. Seemed pretty straight forward, so I thought to try that. But wait! Dad doesn’t like cinnamon. Okay, let’s try raspberries and topped with white chocolate and rolling in macadamia nut meal. Then suddenly I remembered, Dad LOVES custard. So I’ll stuff it with custard! Ok that makes it like a profiterole! So I was settled with that plan… so I thought. I decided to make the custard on one day, then the beignets and stuff them the next day. I decided to use the custard (Crème pâtissière) recipe based on SBS’s website, from their croquembouche recipe. Without much regard for the amount of ingredients being used, I ended up with a lot of custard! What do I do with a tonne of custard? Make a TART!

So here we are! After considering 3 different recipes – this is my fruit and custard tart. My family demolished the tart. So I take it as a good sign.

The base is an almond meal base – like my New York Baked Cheesecake.

1 litre milk
175g white sugar
1 tspn vanilla essence
50g butter
2 eggs plus 4 egg yolks
95g cornflour, sifted (I ran out of cornflour while making this so it was a 50/50 cornflour and custard powder)

1 1/2 cups almond flour/meal
1 1/8 cup plain flour
1/3 cup caster sugar
135g butter, chilled and chopped

200g strawberries
5 kiwi fruits
Whatever other fruit that takes your fancy. Suggestions include: raspberries, passion-fruit, blueberries, peaches, rock-melon, honey dew, mango, pineapple, figs.

1. Combine the milk, a quarter of the sugar, vanilla and butter in a large saucepan and heat gently until hot (not boiling), then remove from the heat.
2. Whisk the remaining sugar with the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl until pale. Add cornflour and a little of the hot milk and whisk well. Whisk this mixture into the hot milk and return the saucepan to medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook for around 3 to 5 minutes, until thick, smooth and glossy. Transfer to a clean bowl to cool.

3. Preheat oven to 160C. Grease base and sides of a large tart tin with melted butter.
4. Place almond meal, flour, sugar and butter into a bowl. Rub mixture with your fingertips. You can also use a cake mixer with the dough hook attachment. The mixture will form coarse breadcrumbs. You know this mixture is ready when you squeeze a handful in your hand and it stays that shape.
5. Place the base mixture in the tin and press gently with fingers to line the tin until even and then smooth out with the back of the spoon. I suggest doing the sides first before you press down the base. Bake for about 15 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and set aside.

Constructing tart
6. Pour cooled custard into baked base. Smooth out with a bake of a spoon or spatula.
7. Slice up fruit and arrange accordingly. Some like to pile the fruit high. Others prefer more custard, so less fruit.
8. Serve with a dusting of icing sugar.

Note:  I had a little leftover pastry and custard, so I make a few little ones too.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Spätzle–German Egg Noodle

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:07 am

While in staying France with my cousin, she gave and showed me how to make, her mother-in-law's recipe for Spätzle. I’ve tried to make it before from a recipe on the internet which resulted in utter failure. After being shown what to do and some secret tips, I can make it a bit better now. I must admit it's still not perfect, especially, how it looks, however, it tastes awesome! I just cooked it for the family, and my niece went for thirds!!!

I'm still working to get the consistency right and I shall be updating this post once I have it down. I thought I should get this blog post up so you can give it a go too and tell me your thoughts. How would you improve it? Feel free to comment below.

I've put the full recipe below, however, you can half it for a smaller group. The recipe below will feed 7 to 8 very hungry people.

You may need to get a Spätzle press or a potato ricer, that has holes at the bottom which you can press the mixture through. This is the one I have by OXO:
Note: You don't have to use a press. Some drizzle the batter into the water with a spoon. Though that would take a bit of time to get through the whole batter. 

1 kg plain flour
4 level tspn salt
8 eggs
600 to 900ml of water (best to use 50/50 sparkling to still water if available) *this range is by feel to get the right consistency (work in progress)
2 Tblspn oil

1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Allow to stand at least an hour. For best results, 4 to 5 hours. Batter should be very thick, like pancake mixture after left standing. Before it would be a bit runnier and less elastic.

Batter before 5 hours of resting

Batter after 5 hours of resting - much more elastic-y

2. In a large pot, fill to three quarters full of water. Bring to just before simmering. When bubbles start floating to the top.

3. Using the Spätzle press, push through mixture into water and stir slightly. (Or use a spoon as previously mentioned.) Allow to cook for about 5 minutes. The noodles will float to the top. Remove from water, drain, run under cold water (like pasta), the put on a clean tea towel to absorb water.

4.  Repeat for remaining batter.

5. Just before serving, fry in a bit of butter til golden. Serve with some hearty stew of choice. Goulash or stroganoff would be my stew of choice.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Red Velvet Passionfruit Melting Moments

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:05 pm

Passionfruits on sale means melting moments time! As it's close to Valentine's day, I decided to experiment and make heart shaped red velvet melting moments. I used my previous melting moments recipe and added red food colouring and cocoa, then used a small heart shaped cookie cutter and the rest is pretty much straight forward.
These turned out pretty tasty and as it was an experiment, I've added some tips and adjustments along the way.
Happy Valentine’s Day 2014 everyone! May your loveliest dreams come true!

250g butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar mixture, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon lemon essence
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 1/2 tablespoons red pillar box food colouring
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup corn flour

125g white chocolate, roughly chopped 
125g block cream cheese, roughly chopped
Pulp of 3 passionfruit

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line 2 to 3 baking trays with baking paper. 
2. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and icing sugar mixture until light and fluffy.

3. Mix flours into butter mixture.

4. In a small bowl, mix cocoa powder, essences and red food colouring to form a smooth paste. Add to butter and flour mixture and mix well. Mixture will become thick.

5. Roll out mixture to about 1cm thick and using a small heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out heart shaped cookies. Lay them on prepared baking tray. Repeat for remaining dough. Make sure there is an even number of biscuits.

a) If you find things get stuck, dust some plain flour.
b) Caution on where you roll out you mixture, it may stain table tops etc. I suggest getting a large baking tray and working on that.
c) I try to use disposable gloves, stainless steel or dark coloured tools and utensils so prevent stains.

6. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool on trays for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Meanwhile, place cream cheese in a small pot and over medium to low heat until melted and smooth. Stir occasionally. Remove from heat and add white chocolate. Keep stirring until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in passionfruit pulp. Cover and refrigerate to cool. The mixture will then form a thick spreadable paste.

8. Spread flat side of 1 biscuit with a thick layer of filling. Top with another biscuit. Repeat with remaining biscuits and filling.

Note: It maybe easier to use a piping bag instead of spreading with a spatula or knife.


What to do with a broken heart - EAT IT!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Caesar Pops

Posted by Kim Fong On 11:04 am

Hi All! Yes I'm finally back in the kitchen and on-the-line after a 6+ months hiatus while OG and I traveled the world. Hope I wasn't missed too much, and you've all been enjoying my previous recipes and some of my happy snaps on Instagram.

Before you ask, I did picked up a few interesting recipes on my travels, which I'm eager to try out and share with you.

This specific recipe was inspired by an Asian cookbook I saw in Vancouver, Canada. It was written in Japanese, so I didn't understand the recipe, however, the picture says it all (see below).

lettucey meatballs

I decided to adapt it to suit the summer-y flavours of Sydney. I was thinking Caesar Salad in popsicle form. So I “whipped” these up for a friend's house warming pot luck party. Risky move though, considering I made up the recipe and have never tried it before and all I was going off was a picture. However, I'm very proud of them and they went down a treat.

Other adaptations: If Caesar Salad isn't your thing, perhaps lamb kofta with baby spinach could be a good mix. Also, I think the one in the picture is some sticky sweet pork and cabbage.

4 rashers bacon, diced
500g mince chicken
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 large egg (or 2 small)
~75g Parmesan cheese, thickly grated or finely chopped
Pepper to taste
1 tspn dried parsley
1 tspn dried oregano
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
2 heads of baby cos lettuce
Caesar salad dressing to serve

1. In a small fry pan, sauté bacon until crispy. Set aside to cool. Tip: leave the fatty bits on the bacon (remove the rind). This will be the "fat" or the "oil" for the meatballs.

2. In a mixing bowl combine chicken, garlic, egg(s), cheese, pepper, herbs and cooled fried bacon. Mix until thoroughly combined.

3. Preheat oven to 210C.

4. Using tablespoons, form balls with the chicken mixture. Roll them in the panko breadcrumbs. Place crumbed balls on a baking paper lined baking tray.

5. Bake balls for 15 to 30 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked. Turn half way through to allow to brown evenly.

6. Remove from oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to allows crumbs to crisp up and balls to cool down enough to handle.

7. In the meantime separate lettuce leaves and wash thoroughly.

8. Using a small bamboo skewer, skewer a leaf, stalk side, then skewer a ball. Place on serving tray. Repeat for remaining leaves and balls. Tip: you can skewer two of the inner leaves as they're a bit smaller.

9. Serve warm with Caesar salad dressing in a small dipping bowl.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:26 pm

It's winter in Sydney and my gastronomic attention turns to chocolate (did I phrase that sentence right?). Chocolate EVERYTHING! Hot chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate bars. However, my waistline can only take so much growth, so one needs to curb their winter chocolate addiction. So I really need to think about what chocolate I really want to consume. Mmmm, chocolate crepe cake!

Some of you may remember the sugarfree crepe cake I made for my dear friend Anna, for her birthday last year. It was my first attempt at a crepe cake too. I loved how it's so delicate when you eat it, with the different layers. This time, I'm using sugar and my best friend, chocolate!

After a couple weeks of googling for recipes and trying to motivate myself to make it  - ta da! I finally got there! Oh yummy!!! Sorry work mates, not sharing this one with you.

85g butter, melted
3 cups milk
6 eggs
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup hazelnut meal
pinch of salt
oil for frying crepe

cream filling
200g dark chocolate, chopped
200ml thickened cream
1/2 tspn vanilla essence
2 tspn icing sugar, sifted

~1/2 cup hazelnut meal

1. Heat milk in a small pot over medium heat until steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Beat eggs and sugar until pale. Add flour, cocoa, hazelnut meal and salt. Mix well. Add milk and melted butter. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate. Best results, refrigerate overnight, but a couple of hours is fine too.

3. While crepe mixture is in the fridge, heat thickened cream in a small pot over low to medium heat until just boiling. Remove from heat and add chocolate. Keep stirring until chocolate melts and mixed well with cream.  Stir in vanilla and icing sugar. Whip mixture until medium peaks.

4. To make the crepes, bring the batter to room temperature. Place a nonstick 9-inch crepe pan (or ordinary fry pan is fine) over medium heat. Swab the surface very lightly with the oil. Using a laddle (about 1/3 cup volume), add batter and swirl to cover the surface. 

5. Cook until the bottom just begins to brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully lift an edge and flip the crepe. Cook on the other side until golden. Flip crepe onto a cooling rack, trivet or clean tea towel lined plate until cooled, then stack on another plate. Repeat from step #5 with remaining batter. This should make approximately 20 crepes. 

Note: You can either make all the crepes then build the cake or build as you go. If you decide the latter – ensure the crepe is cooled before spread the cream.

6. Place a crepe on a serving plate. Spread about a heaped tablespoon of cream over crepe to cover surface. Sprinkle with hazelnut meal. Place next crepe on top and repeat for remaining crepe layers. Ensure to finish with your best looking crepe.

7. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight until ready to serve. 

Tip: I used a springform cake tin to refrigerate to give the vessel some rigidity.

8. Serve on its own, some whipped cream, berry coulis or fresh fruit.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mum’s Vanilla Crème Caramel

Posted by Kim Fong On 6:32 pm

Growing up, this recipe was one of Mum's regulars. It's actually pretty simple and gluten free. I had it memorised for my Bulla Cream Cook Off weekend, just in case I had to pull out a recipe on the spot. I find the only tricky bit is you need to melt the sugar over the stove. So'll you need a metal pan that's not spring-form. As opposed to those silicone ones. Do take care, not to burn yourself and be patient with the sugar. It will get there.

If you do like the coffee version of Crème Caramel, substitute about half a cup of milk with coffee. 

¼ to ½ cup caster or white sugar

3 cups milk
4 to 5 eggs
¼ cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence

1. Place sugar in a 20 cm round cake pan (not spring form), place over a medium to low heat to melt sugar. Be careful not to burn the sugar or yourself. 
2. Using a thick tea towel or oven mits, swirl the melted sugar to coat the base and a little up the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside. The sugar may crack as it cools - that’s okay.

3. In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Add sugar, vanilla and milk, stir to combine.
4. Pour into prepared pan.
5. Place pan into a baking tray and fill with hot water forming a baine marie. 
6. Bake in oven at 170°C for 30 minutes. You can tell this is set/cooked when a knife inserted comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and cool slightly (for about 10 minutes). Run a knife around the rim of  the cake tin and then place a lipped plate over the pan and invert in a quick motion. Serve.

Tip: You can make this in advanced and keep in fridge in pan and turn out just before serving.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Spinach and 7 Cheese Cannelloni

Posted by Kim Fong On 3:49 pm

The number of different cheeses in our fridge at one time, you'll need more than a hand to keep count. For the most part, it gets eaten pretty quickly. At times you get the well aged mouldy goodness sitting at the back of the fridge waiting for a special dish, occasion or random craving. However, there are rare times cheese starts going off in our fridge. Thankfully, this wasn't one of those times and I caught this batch just in time. The ricotta and the cottage cheese had both been opened and half used, and I wanted to use it up before I had to throw it out.

I love cannelloni. Stuffed then baked pasta - what's not to love. Italian enchiladas! Or some would argue the other way around, enchiladas are Mexican cannelloni. Whatever - they're both awesome! What turned me off about making cannelloni was stuffing the cannelloni tubes, which involved piping, which is more mess than I wanted. Then I read somewhere (cannot recall where, so long as you know this idea is not unique to me) to use fresh lasagne sheets instead! Brilliant! It makes life with cannelloni so easy and you get to practise your sushi rolling technique without actually making sushi!

So below my recipe to: use up the cheeses (and mushrooms) in my fridge, eat cannelloni, warm the house with the oven on and warm our tummies.

Cannelloni Filling
375g frozen spinach, defrosted
200g fresh mushrooms, 0.5cm diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2/3 cup, freshly chopped parsley leaves, roughly chopped (save the stalks for the sauce)
1 Tblspn dried basil
1 Tblspn dried oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
Total of 250g soft cheese I used a mix of ricotta, cottage, goat’s cheese

1 to 2 Tblspn olive oil to coat base of pan
1½ cans of crushed tomatoes (600g)
Stalks from the fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ onion, 1cm diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 Tblspn dried basil
1 Tblspn dried oregano
1 tpsn honey (or sugar)
100g fresh mushrooms, 0.5cm diced

Assembling dish
8 fresh lasagne sheets
175g shredded pizza cheese mix (Mozzarella, Cheddar & Parmesan combo)
Shredded/grated Grana Padano (or aged Parmesan hard cheese) to serve

Cannelloni Filling
1. In a large bowl combine all the above listed ingredients for the cannelloni filling. Set aside.

2. Place a medium saucepan over medium to high heat. Allow pan to heat and coat the base with oil. Add onions and cook until onions turn translucent. Stir in bay leaves, oregano, basil, parsley stalks and mushrooms. Add tomatoes and garlic. Stir to combine. Stir in honey. Turn heat down to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes to allow flavours of herbs to infuse into the tomatoes. Set aside to cool. In the meantime, assemble your cannelloni.

Assemble cannelloni
3. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a large baking tray with some olive oil.

4. Lay a lasagne sheet on a large plate or chopping board. Place about 2 to 4 tablespoonfuls of the cannelloni filling mixture across the edge of the lasagne sheet and roll until it forms a tube. Slice off the excess lasagne sheet. Place tube in greased baking tray. Repeat for the remaining mixture and sheets.

5. Pour the sauce evenly over the cannelloni. Top with shredded pizza cheese. Cover with foil and place in oven for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15 minutes or until cheese melts and starts browning slightly. Remove from oven and allow to stand for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with some freshly grated Grana Padano (or aged Parmesan hard cheese).

It looks a bit like slop but it's damn good slop!